A Call to Service!

August 22, 2006 | Karin's Blog | 23 comments

            I’m talking jury duty

So I had to report to my local Superior Court today for jury duty.  Of course when I called after 5 p.m. yesterday to see if my group was dismissed for reporting, mine was the first one the recording said must report.  Grrr. Here’s the thing. Getting up at 6:30 am except to pee is not something I will ever enjoy.  Sitting on a jury though is something I’d love to do. I feel it is my civic duty and would want someone like me on the jury.

So off I went at 7:30 this morning sipping my coffee and yawning tears. The directions were wrong. I ended up in the next town, but luckily I made it in time.  I had to check in and fill out a questionnaire.  The first question being:  Is your spouse or someone in your immediate family a law enforcement official or has been a law enforcement official?  I checked the box marked YES.  This answer in of itself is usually the deal breaker for me.  The defense does not want me under any circumstances to sit in that jury box.  Why?  Because those guys know I know they jack the system and that for the most part if the DA gets a report he or she will only charge if there is at least an 80% chance of getting a conviction. How do they determine that?  Evidence. Coz, I’m here to tell you, my husband has never arrested an innocent person.  😉

The next question asks: if the answer to the first question is yes, do I have confidence in the judicial system?  While my gut reaction was no, because bad guys get off all of the time, I had to think hard about it.  And here was my rational.  If I were a juror on say a murder trial, and I knew the guy killed his wife, but the prosecution did not prove it to me, I would not find him guilty.  I couldn’t do it in good conscious.  I’m too honest. I marked YES.

So in that respect I felt I was more then capable of being an objective juror.  After they called 140 of the 150 of us that reported this morning, I being among the 10 who were not called, we were told we got the get out of jail free card.  We were thanked and excused.  I was disappointed.  I wanted to serve.  I wanted the experience. I wanted to use my experience in a story. I wanted to do my civic duty.  I wanted to be part of the American way.  The last time I appeared for jury duty at least I got as far as getting into the court room and hearing about the case.  A DUI.  Now that I had to be perfectly honest with the judge.  If the guy blew, pissed or bled a blood alcohol over .08 I didn’t care what happened, he was guilty.  I was excused then too.  Do you see a pattern here?

So all of this brings me to a couple of questions.  It’s damn hard once your mind has been tainted to see your way through a situation and be objective. But can you? Be objective? Or do you turn a blind eye? Like when it comes to your kid being accused of something and you automatically assume the, “Not my kid.” Stance. Hell, I always knew one of my boys was involved, my automatic question was, and still is: “What did he do this time?”

Would you have for the sake of research gone to such lengths as to make sure you were picked?


  1. Jan

    Ahem, I have gone to lengths but have never served. Usually when I call in the night before I get the “it’s been cancelled” message. Once, when my mom was called to serve and was in the hospital, I volunteered to take her place. Nope, didn’t work. Yeah, I can be objective and it’s very tough to do, esp if it goes against my grain.

  2. Edie Ramer

    I’ve never been called for jury duty, and I’ve always wanted to go. I vote every election too. Well, almost. Not a few of the little ones. In our small community, we sometimes only have one person running for all the offices, so what’s the point of voting?

    I once worked with a woman who was on a murder trial, and all she did was complain. I was so jealous of her.

    Karin, if you were at the OJ trial, would you have said he was not guilty on the evidence shown (including the shrinking glove thing), even if you were sure he was?

  3. LaDonna

    I’ve never served either, Karin. My name is in the system, but never got to the stage you have yet. The only time I couldn’t be objective is crimes against kids. Forget it. I know I’d have to say, not me, not today. Too tough to listen to, and I have no sympathy in that corner. But, I’d like to think that yes, any other crimes I could listen without prejudice. I’d want the same chance if I were in the other chair. And honesty is good, Karin, me too. Be proud!

  4. Karin

    Edie, the DNA was all the proof I needed.
    Right now there is a very high profile murder case being tried at the court house I was at today. The victim was bludgeoned with a blunt object, something like 56 times then the piss-ant 17 year old kid carved satanic symbols on this woman’s body. The mother of the killer helped destroy evidence to protect her son. As heart breaking as it would have been for me, I would have tunred my child in, if they committed such a henious crime. I’m not sure, LaDonna, knowing how gruesome the murder was, if I could have served on that jury.
    I hear you about the cases involving children. Those were the hardest cases for my husband.

  5. Theresa

    I’ve served on a jury three times now.

    Once concerning a DUI
    Once concerning someone who was suing their neighbor.
    And once concerning a breaking/entering.

    What I found from the experience is that at least 50% of the people on the jury are either insane or flat out stupid. They didn’t base their guilty/none-guilty vote on the evidence presented–they voted based on their own assumptions, or what they want to believe, or whether they liked/didn’t like the person on the stand.

    All three of the juries I served on resulted in a hung trial. Why? Because 50% of the people chosen to serve totally blew off the evidence presented. They made excuses up for the people on the stand, or they voted against one party just because they didn’t like them.

    All three were eye opening expereinces, and combined they left me with serious doubts as to whether our justice system works in the slightest. I’ll tell you one thing– I sure wouldn’t want to be on trial. Because I wouldn’t want to trust my life to my peers.

  6. Karin

    ‘All three were eye opening expereinces, and combined they left me with serious doubts as to whether our justice system works in the slightest. I’ll tell you one thing”“ I sure wouldn’t want to be on trial. Because I wouldn’t want to trust my life to my peers.’
    Exactly, Theresa. That’s why I want to be on a jury. Dayum! And what I didn’t comment on was the caliber of people that showed up yesterday. I was wondering what gutter some of them rolled out of. In fact the guy who sat down next to me smelled like he’d just taken a bath in a bottle of cheap whiskey.

  7. Hubby

    If you’re picked…
    You must convict!

    The OJ trial was a sham. The evidence showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that OJ is a murderer. His attorney’s turned it into something else, that all to often played race card, and this time it worked. No other suspect has been identified or investigated or every will be. The killer got off and now plays golf in Florida.

  8. Theresa

    Yeah, the OJ trial was a good example of the system at its worst. But that whole mentality trickles down into even the smallest of trials.

    Take the DUI trial I served on. There was absolutely NO DOUBT the woman in question had been drunk. She failed every sobriety test. She had empty beer cans in the passanger seat and floor beside her. She was swerving all over the road and driving 15 miles an hour in a 50 mile speed limit. The smell of alchol on her breath was overpowering. (according to the officer testifying)But she refused to take a breathalyser test.

    Still. Half of the jury voted not guilty. Why? Well lets see. One voted not-guilty because she collects beer cans to sell for her grandson, so she has empty beer cans in her car all the time. She totally disregarded all the other evidence and concentrated just on that one thing. Another woman said that the sobriety test looked hard, and she was sure she would fail them even sober. We tried to convince her to do them now, see how hard they were. But no, she maintained without even trying that they were too hard. So she based her not-guilty vote on that, again totally disregarding the rest of the evidence. One woman voted not-guilty because she said the whole breath analyzer thing was an invasion of privacy. She didn’t pay any attention to the evidence–just fixated on that one thing. Another woman voted not-guilty because she said the officer hadn’t presented all the evidence he should have, and thus she didn’t feel he did his job adequately. I am not kidding. Her neighbor apparently is a state patroler and told her once you can tell if someone is drunk by the red in their eyes. And since the officer never presented red eyes as evidence, she felt he didn’t do his job. She told us she believed the woman was drunk, but didn’t feel the cop had proved it. And maybe next time he’d do a better job.

    We sat there four hours and not one of those people would budge on their stand.

    Eventually the judge polled us. The attorneys asked those who’d voted not-guilty what had led to that vote. When it got to that woman who didn’t think the cop had done his job– she actually told them that. At which point the officer stood up and asked to reply and told us that he had checked the state of the woman’s eyes–and yes they’d been red. But red eyes were not allowed as evidence, since too many conditions could led to that color.

    And then there was the person suing their neighbor because their son had been hurt on the neighbor’s trampoline.

    Lets forget the fact that the kid had been told repeatedly, and infront of witness, by the owners of the trampoline NOT to come on their property. They put up a six foot fence and padlocked the gate to keep him out. But he scaled the fence when nobody was home and bounced off the trampoline breaking an arm and leg. Rather than taking responsibily for their son’s actions the parents sued. Saying the trampaline was too big of a temptation for a thirteen year old, and the owners should have gotten rid of it.

    To my absolute amazement half the jury agreed with them. Apparently in our society you don’t teach your children to withstand temptation, you get rid of it. Nor do you punish your children for disobeying, you blame it on your neighbors.

    And don’t even get me started on the B&E trail. That one really scraped the bottom of the IQ barrel.

    Interestingly– what I found during the course of those three trials, was that women were always the ones who voted not-guilty– and totally ignored the evidence. I’m not sure what that means. . .

  9. LaDonna

    Wow, Theresa, very interesting stuff! Okay, I’m convinced I’d never survive sitting in the jury box, I’d have to knock some serious booty! lol Common sense is a rarity these days IMO. We have so many laws protecting guilty people, that innocent ones get crapped on. The trampoline one was a prime example. How awlful. Also, I heard a felon sued homeowners once, cause he fell through their skylight and got a BooBoo. Ah, it’s a wonder your hubby survived, Karin.

  10. Amanda Murphy

    I have so wanted to serve on a jury for the experience. I’ve made it to the jury box. They used up all of the jury pool and had to let us go and start the next day with a new jury pool because there weren’t any extras for alternets. I was so bummed. But got my $18 for the day. Yeah!

  11. Karin

    Babe, you have that right. Sheesh, maybe I would be a bad juror knowing that.
    Theresa, what a bunch of dumbasses! I’m afraid I would commit an assault those ignoramuses myself. I’d love to convict *them* on that fact. I’m still shaking my head. Stupid is as stupid does. Just what the hell are they putting in the water theses days?
    LaDonna, if someone breaks into your house and you wing ’em? You’ll get sued for protecting your life and property.
    Amanda? How do our guys put up with this crap?

  12. Amanda Murphy

    Karin, I honestly don’t know. They go to all that effort to catch them, for what? To see them right back out on the streets. I think I like the Judge Dredd approach better. LOL

  13. LaDonna

    Ah, Karin is that law nationwide? lol. The suing for protecting life and property? Seriously, I need to know this stuff. Our store was robbed a few times, and they NEVER found the turds. New doors, locks, security system, several sleepliness nights for my hubby and son-in-law. Probably good thing they never came back. Makes ya sick to the bone. And a Sherriff lives next door. He’s a really nice guy, but these outlaws were wise to the ways.

  14. Karin

    In litigious CA, if someone breaks into your home and you shoot them and 1: they are not killed, or 2: they drag themselves outside of your home and then die, you can get sued by the bad guy or his family. And with what I’m reading here about dumbass jurors, the bad guys’ chances of getting money out of you are better then yours, the original offened party.
    Very sad state of affairs.

  15. Theresa

    IMHO– The Justice system’s basic principal is flawed. It assumes that the citizens who sit on the jury are blessed with common sense. Not so from what I’ve seen in the admittedly few trials I’ve been involved with.

  16. Michelle Diener

    It sounds like they deliberately try to get people on the jury that won’t use their common sense. We don’t have juries where I come from. A judge sits the case and then has to produce a ruling on how they came to their verdict, which is open for public scrutiny. If the defense thinks they have grounds for appeal, they can take it to the appeal court, where 3 judges hear the evidence and then rule. The majority verdict is passed.

  17. Lee

    Like you, Karin, I’d never get picked for a jury. Believe me when I say, the bad guys don’t want me as a jurist. I’ve seen the system work, and not work. But over all, in the worse cases, it does seem to work. I have yet to see a innocent person get convicted, but I have seen the wrong person arrested. (notice I don’t say innocent.Wrong place wrong time. Nope, I’d say they were up to something.)I’ve worked around some of California’s worst criminals, and seen the juries do their job, and put them away for good. The courts aren’t prefect, it does fall down occasionally. There are some really scary individuals who are in jail, and thank goodness they are, because you wouldn’t want them out. I said that to an attorney once, who was giving me a bad time over the housing of her client, and I asked her point blank, “Are you defending this murdering creep, because you want him out free, living next door to you, dating your daughter?” I never got a answer. The guy was convicted and sentenced to death. A sentencing he more then deserved.
    OJ was an exception to the rule. LAPD and the DA, really just screwed up that case, and OJ, had a good team of lawyers, who saw it and ran with it. But I wonder how his ‘dream team’ lived with themselves, knowing they set a murderer free. I think a couple of them have died since then, from heart problems. Just maybe it bothered them more then just a little? And OJ, he maybe playing golf, but he can’t even get a reservation for a table in the corner near the kitchen at McDonalds, because the world knows, he did it…I’m a believer in Karma. The system may have failed us with OJ, but Karma won’t.

  18. Hubby

    A word of advice regarding the wrong people in your house or business. Don’t own a gun unless you intend to use it. Don’t use a gun unless you are prepared to kill with it. “Dead men tell no lies.” Home and business owners have been successfully sued in our courts for protecting their lives and property by the bad guys or their families for wrongful deaths, maming and other injuries receieved during the commission of thier crimes.

    If you can articulate that you were in fear for your life and took the neccessary steps to protect your life, then you are headed in the right direction. The problem is when the bad guy survives and somehow counters your version of what happened. Suddenly, the jurors feel empathy for him and not you. As previously stated, “Dead men tell no lies.”

    Regarding common sense: While in the academy, I went for a ride-along with an officer in my department. We stopped a female DUI. She was loaded! Gave her the FST in her heels and in her bare feet and she failed both. She blew a .12 BAC and offered to blow both of us to let her go. When it got to court in November, the jury found her not guilty. When poled afterwards, they said my testimony was discounted because I was still in training, because everyone knows you can’t properly observe a drunk without the proper training. And they felt sorry for her because it was so close to the Holiday’s. I hope, in a drunken state, she never runs into any of them on the road, especially during the Holidays…

  19. Karin

    And sweetie, I’m glad you didn’t take her up on her proposition.

  20. LaDonna

    Thanks for the insight. Dead men tell no lies, is the crux for sure. And I had to laugh, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to observe a drunk. Good, golly, it was close to the holidays? I love my eggnog too, just don’t get behind the wheel after!

  21. LaDonna

    Karin too funny! I was thinking the same thing. How in the world did you manage with your hubby in danger, violence wise and hooker wise, for so many years?

  22. Karin

    lol, LaDonna, the answers to your
    questions will be a blog post next week. Thank you for the idea!

  23. LaDonna

    You’re welcome, can’t wait for the blog post!

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • 2013 (2)
  • 2012 (7)
  • 2011 (10)
  • 2010 (41)
  • 2009 (156)
  • 2008 (165)
  • 2007 (160)
  • 2006 (149)
  • 2005 (26)